The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow (I reviewed the size large in DCF8 fabric) is a rectangular stuff sack with a zip closure that is reversible and has a fleece interior on one side. It is a waterproof stuff sack by day, and a pillow by night. It is among the lightest pillows on the market and a true dual-purpose item.
Features and Specifications
- Waterproof stuff sack
- Reversible with Polartec fleece interior
- Dyneema Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber)
- Pillow loft and firmness adjustable by adding or removing clothing
- Materials: DCF 8 Dyneema Composite Fabrics (formerly Cuben Fiber)
- Reversible with interior Polartec 100 weight fleece
- Weight: 1.6 oz. (45 g) measured (manufacturer claim: 1.4 oz. (40g))
- Measurements: 17 in x 12 in (43 cm x 30 cm)
- Cost: $45
A pillow is considered by many to be a luxury in the backcountry. I have certainly felt that way in the past, having used jackets, stuff sacks, packs, or even shoes as a substitute for a pillow. As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve increasingly seen a pillow as a necessity for a good night’s sleep. For me a backpacking pillow needs to meet the following criteria:
- It has to be light. A pillow is a luxury item, but it has to be light enough to be carried for most trips. For me, that means less than 3 ounces.
- It should be multi-purpose, if possible. Non-dedicated items make it into my pack more often.
- It needs to be thick- I’m a side sleeper. Having adjustable loft is important for a pillow to be usable by a variety of users.
- It needs to be comfy!
Description of Field Testing
I used this pillow on many, many trips over a one year period. I used it in many settings: an overnight volcano climb in Guatemala, multiple trips on the Washington Coast, in deep snow in the Cascades, and in the deserts of Arizona. The pillow was tested in a comprehensive variety of trip types and environments.
Over the course of this review, I spent many nights using the Hyperlite Mountain Gear pillow. I initially thought I would use it primarily for family backpacking or base camp trips, but it quickly became a piece of gear I don’t go without. That’s because it is a highly functional and waterproof stuff sack, and also a comfortable pillow with adjustable loft.
The pillow is a highly functional stuff sack that weighs just 1.6 ounces. It is constructed with seam-taped Dyneema Composite Fabrics DCF8 fabric, formerly known as Cuben Fiber. This fabric is known for being durable, highly waterproof, and very light. A dual-sided, waterproof YKK zipper is highly water resistant, making the stuff sack functionally waterproof, but not submersible like a dry bag. I left it out in the rain one afternoon, zipper side up, and experienced no leaking. I typically use the sack as a clothing stuff sack and have found that the rectangular shape is easy to pack, alongside round shapes, such as cooking pots, and stuff sacks. When used as a stuff sack, the fleece is protected, keeping it clean and dry.
I have found that excellent craftsmanship is typical of products from Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and this pillow is no exception. The sewing is excellent, the seam-taping is perfect, and the materials are all the highest quality. Knowing that your gear was hand-made in the USA only adds to the satisfaction.
When using it as a pillow, the sack is turned inside out and filled with items to make a pillow. The Polartec fleece is warm and soft to the skin. I typically used an insulation jacket and a couple of smaller clothing items to make my pillow, which is pretty flat. Adding another jacket or pair of insulation pants fills it up for a higher loft pillow. I also experimented with other items such as freeze-dried food packages and found that this worked fine, especially if clothing is layered over the top. The DCF8 fabric becomes soft and quiet with repeated use and is also less slippery than Sil nylon fabrics, helping the pillow to stay in place through the night.
The downside of this pillow is that you need to have items to put inside, such as extra clothing. On trips where I’m really pushing the boundaries of my system, I sometimes wear all of my extra clothing to bed, potentially limiting the use of this pillow.
Cuben Fiber typically means high cost, due to the cost of the DCF fabric itself. At $45, though, this pillow is reasonably priced and similarly priced to other dedicated pillows on the market. I found the large pillow to be a great size for me, but a small size is also available for $35.
Product Strengths and Limitations
I was very happy with the performance of this pillow. It is a luxury item that I now bring on many trips because of these reasons:
- Dual-purpose and adds less than 1oz compared to similar-sized DCF stuff sacks.
- It is adjustable: just add more padding to increase loft.
- $45 is a reasonable price and the materials and craftsmanship are excellent.
While this pillow is a great product, there are some potential drawbacks:
- If you are a person who often doesn’t have extra clothing at night, this may not be the pillow for you. You can use other items, but clothing really works best. The small size would require less clothing if that is a concern.
- A dedicated pillow is a bit more comfortable, depending on how you sleep. For example, I find the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium to be better for side sleeping. However, it’s also heavier and bulkier.
- The pillow weighted 1.6 ounces on my scale, slightly more than the manufacturer’s claim of 1.4 ounces.
The other pillow I’ve used recently is the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium. Here is how it compares to the Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) pillow:
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
- Dedicated pillow (not dual-use)
- 2.8 oz (79 g) – 1.2 oz heavier than the HMG
- 13.4 in x 9.4 in (34 cm x 24 cm) – smaller than the HMG
- 4.3 in (11 cm) deep and contoured- deeper than the non-contoured HMG
When comparing the two, the Aeros Pillow is definitely more comfortable for a side sleeper. For back and stomach sleepers, I found the Hyperlite Mountain Gear pillow to be very comfortable, as well as lighter and dual-purpose.
I love the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Large DCF8 Stuff Sack Pillow. The name is a mouthful, but this product is simple and highly effective. It will continue to go with me on all of my ultralight backpacking trips because it adds so little to my pack weight and makes for a more comfortable night’s sleep. The price is reasonable and it is a durable and well-constructed piece of gear. I have found that an air pillow can be more comfortable for side sleeping, but it’s also a bit heavier. If you’re used to sleeping on silnylon stuff sacks, the HMG pillow is a huge upgrade.
Where to Buy the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow
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